Governor Newsom’s Top Business Adviser Steps Down

Lenny Mendonca

Lenny Mendonca, director of Governor Gavin Newsom’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) and chairman of the High-Speed Rail Authority, has stepped down from his role as one of the Governor’s key advisers, the Governor’s office announced on April 10. Mendonca departed in order to focus more on his family and personal businesses, according to the statement.

The Governor appointed the San Joaquin Valley native as his chief economic adviser in January 2019, but Mendonca has been a long-time adviser to Newsom. In a statement, Newsom commended Mendonca for spearheading an initiative to promote economic prosperity in California’s inland counties and launching the Future of Work Commission.

“With a lifetime of business experience and an entrepreneurial spirit, Lenny has guided our economic development strategies with equal parts skill and grace,” Newsom said. “A son of the Central Valley, Lenny made room at the table for parts of California that for too long have been left out of our state’s prosperity.”

As the state’s top economic adviser, Mendonca often worked with the California Chamber of Commerce, notably attending the chamber’s international affairs briefings and events with a keen understanding of the importance of international trade and its impact on California’s job climate and economic future.

“Lenny is a friend to the business community and we appreciate the leadership, professionalism and integrity he demonstrated in his service to the Governor and to all Californians,” said CalChamber President and CEO Allan Zaremberg in a statement on April 13. “He has been a stalwart and visionary advocate for California private enterprise with a clear understanding of what California employers need to succeed and how government can play an appropriate role. The CalChamber truly appreciates Lenny’s willingness to work with us time and again, discussing critical issues important to the business community and listening to the concerns of our members.”

Chris Dombrowski, chief deputy director at GO-Biz, will fill in as the office’s acting director, while Tom Richards, vice chair of the High-Speed Rail Authority, will lead the board for the foreseeable future.